Hardware is one of many design features that have changed along with the passage of different English antique furniture periods. Still, there is a distinct lack of information on this topic, since most discussions on period furniture tend to focus on woods, inlays, construction, and carving styles. So, I’ve put together a useful compilation of which drawer pulls were most commonly used during different English antique furniture periods.
I’ll start with the Jacobean period because it is the first period in which ornamentation began to clearly take shape in hardware design. Previous to the Jacobean period, drawers were mostly hidden behind doors. However, at the dawn of the Jacobean period, the chest of drawers as we know it began to rise in popularity and complexity. Drawer pulls at the time were mostly small, single-post, brass, and shaped like teardrops. The back would also be brass and round or floral shaped.
William and Mary (1690-1725)
William and Mary period pulls were not much different from their Jacobean counterparts. They became slightly larger in proportion to the furniture but retained the single-post, teardrop style of the previous period.
Queen Anne (1702-1714)
The first two-post pull became popular during the Queen Anne period. Again made from brass, the pulls had a “batwing” shaped backplate and a curved handle between the two posts. Batwing backplates were usually a substantial size.
The Georgian period saw three of the furniture industry’s finest designers and craftsmen in Thomas Chippendale, George Hepplewhite, and Thomas Sheraton. Each of these men greatly influenced the period and had a pull style of their own. Chippendale pulls were a pierced, batwing-shaped pull, Hepplewhite pulls were a stamped brass, oval backplate pull, and Sheraton pulls were usually a round, stamped, brass backplate pull. The typical Georgian period pull was otherwise a simple swan-neck, two-post pull.
While Georgian pulls were generally rather uncomplex, Regency period pulls were exactly opposite. Still made of brass, the Regency pulls were large and very ornate, following the general shift in taste that the Regency style embodied.
As you would expect from a long period like the Victorian period, there were a few different kinds of common pulls. Many Early Victorian pieces saw a return of the teardrop, single-post pull from the Jacobean and William and Mary periods, although Victorian teardrop pulls were generally larger than earlier precedents. The Victorian period was also the first period in which mass production was used in cabinetry. This process saw the introduction of turned wooden knobs as well as porcelain knobs. Still, more ornate, hand-crafted Victorian pieces had carved drawer pulls.
Edwardian period furniture, with all of its clean and geometric lines, tended to feature simple swan neck pulls and smaller round ring pulls that complemented the satinwood and ebony inlays that were in fashion at the time.